Mostert’s Mill – A Living Heritage Site

There are a number of interesting attractions in South Africa that date back to the colonial history of the country. One of these is Mostert’s Mill in Cape Town. Mostert’s Mill has a reputation for being one of the oldest and best preserved windmills in South Africa and it sees a great many visitors every year.

South Africa first started to be colonized by Europeans when the Dutch East India Company was one of the biggest and most influential trading companies on the ocean. For a long time circumnavigating Africa was one quickest ways to get to the East where a vast variety of items could be bought and traded and brought back home. Unfortunately such a voyage was long and perilous and the sailors on board the vessels undergoing such a trip were in constant need of fresh supplies. So it was decided that certain men would be given the task of farming near the top of Africa so that they would be in the position to provide fresh supplies to passing sailors. These farmers had to build mills in order to mill the grain that they were harvesting so that it could be readily used by the ships. At first, only mills controlled by the Dutch East India Company were allowed. However, after some time these farmers sought independence and that was exactly what they got after the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795. It is thought that Mostert’s Mill in Cape Town was built around 1796 and that it was the first privately owned mill to be erected in the country.

Mostert’s Mill was built on a private farm called ‘Welgelegen’, which was owned by Gysbert van Renen. Sometime after Van Renen’s death, his son-in-law, Sybrand Mostert, took it upon himself to give the mill its current name. It was first restored in 1935 and, despite some rough patches, is currently in good, working order. In fact, it is now considered to be a part of the country’s ‘Living Heritage’, and visitors can not only see the mill in action under the expert guidance of voluntary millers, but they can purchase some flour created with the mill. Mostert’s Mill is situated on the M3 not far from UCT and is easy to spot. However, gaining access is not quite as easy and it is best to phone ahead and set up an appointment if you wish to see the mill during your stay in Cape Town.